Extending beyond or transcending established borders or spheres of influence held by separate nations: a supranational economy; supranational federations.
Refers to the formal transfer of legal authority and decision-making power from member states to an institution or international body. In this context Moravcsik distinguishes between ‘pooled sovereignty’ when governments agree to make future decisions by voting procedures other than unanimity; and ‘delegated sovereignty’ when supranational actors are given the authority to take certain sorts of decisions without either a vote amongst affected governments or the capacity of states to veto the decision. Although often used loosely to describe any set of institutions ‘above the state’, the term refers more properly to a particular characteristic of international institutions and international legal authority. The clearest examples of supranational institutions can be found in the European Union, where the Commission, the European Parliament, and the European Court of Justice, constitute common political structures with supranational authority—in contrast to the Council of Ministers, which is based on intergovernmental modes of decision-making.
Supranational institutions played a key role in neofunctionalist accounts of European integration. Neofunctionalists argued that high and rising levels of interdependence and cross-border exchange would generate increasing demands for the creation of supranational institutions to solve common problems. This, in turn, would catalyse a process of ever expanding collaboration between member states, leading eventually to political integration. More recently, theorists have challenged intergovernmental accounts of European integration both by highlighting the formally supranational components of the European Union but also by challenging the view that member-states have simply delegated certain powers for particular purposes and, as principals, remain in full control of an increasingly complex set of institutions and integration processes.
— Andrew Hurrell
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